Spaghetti Western Archive – A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL

The spaghetti westerns weren’t far along chronologically—although there were already a ton of movies—when the genre began to splinter off into specific sub-genres. In time there would be comedic spaghettis (the most notable being the Trinity films), spaghettis with a touch of horror, and even cross-over spaghettis that brought in Asian elements in the form of samurais and kung fu warriors. But the most important of these spaghetti sub-genres would have to be the politicized westerns. Usually set within the Mexican revolution—or at least something passing itself off as the Mexican revolution—some of the best films within the larger body of spaghetti westerns are found in this particular sub-genre, starting with Damiano Damiani’s brilliant A Bullet for the General. Continue reading

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T-Shirt Confidential #6

confidential 1Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

DCFC0139.JPGOriginally posted as T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 6 (July 15, 2007)
There are literally hundreds of t-shirts in the collection—some were bought, some received as presents, others were found or freebies, and a few were borrowed/stolen. And then there were the shirts that were “earned.” These are the shirts I got from doing things like volunteering at some event, and while most of these have no great autobiographical value, this particular shirt is the exception.

This is the most recent addition to the BadAzz MoFo T-Shirt Museum, as I just got it last week (on July 8th [2007]). I got this shirt, along with one other and a sweatshirt, by volunteering to be a camp counselor at the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s summer camp for kids. As you can tell, it is hard to read, but it says, “Around the World in 6 Days. 2007 MDA Summer Camp.” You may also notice the simple line rendering of the graphic is not that bold or exciting (it is a hot air balloon, surrounded by flags, going over a mountain, in case you can’t tell). The shirt is also a 50/50 cotton polyester blend, which I usually reserve for only wearing around the house because they don’t feel as good as 100% cotton, and I don’t like the way they look on me. But I still love this shirt, and plan on wearing it a lot. It will make a good workout shirt, especially because the light green color will show off sweat really well. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like to wear clothes that show off the sweat when I’m working out. It makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. Fortunately for me, I can work up a sweat just staring at exercise equipment.

It is rare that I can look at a shirt and know that it will have lasting autobiographical value, but this MDA Summer Camp shirt has come along during what is turning out to be a key transitional time in my life. It means more to me than a lot of other shirts because it represents more than many others.

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BAMF’s Movie Poster Hall of Fame – SLAUGHTER IN SAN FRANCISCO

slaughter_in_san_francisco_posterIt is no secret that I’m not a fan of Chuck Norris. In fact, I haven’t even seen this movie. But the poster is badass.

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T-Shirt Confidential #5

confidential 2Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

DCFC0132.JPGOriginally posted as T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 5 (July 7, 2007)
People think I’m exaggerating when I tell them that I have so many t-shirts that if I were to wear a different one each day of the week I could go for over a year without doing laundry. I have so many shirts that once a year or so I put a bunch in storage, and break out a whole new rotation. This is when I break out what will be the regular wear for the upcoming year that I rediscover some old gems like this one.

I got this Malcolm X shirt in Los Angeles back in 1997. I was living in LA at the time, working on my blaxploitation documentary. Even though I was working on my film, by and large it was a very unpleasant time in my life. I was really broke at the time, almost all of my money went to food or gas for the car, and as a consequence I almost never went out.

At that time I had gotten to know Leon Mobley, who was the original percussionist for Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. We met when he played in Portland, and was looking to score some herb. This was back when no one but his mama knew who Ben Harper was, and you could see him and the band in smaller venues without a bunch of smelly hippies doing their stupid Grateful Dead dance.

Leon was also on the PBS series Zoom back in the 1970s when he was a kid. For a while I was talking to Leon about doing music for the documentary. He had invited me out to some of the only cultural events I attended while in LA, including the Malcolm X Festival where I bought this shirt. I don’t remember where the festival was, I just remember it was on a Saturday, it was hot, and I was hungry and broke. For the most part I was living off credit cards in those days (a BIG mistake) and I seldom had cash on me. I remember that I got to the festival, and I was really hungry. I only had a little bit of cash—just enough to get this t-shirt or get some food, but not both. Obviously, I bought the shirt.

What is funny—and by “funny” I mean pathetic—is that until I posed for this picture, I had never worn this shirt. I’ve had the thing in my collection for ten years—TEN YEARS!!!—and I have never worn it! How do I know this? Well, I have a really big head, so big in fact that it stretches out the neck of every t-shirt I have ever worn. The neck on this t-shirt had never been stretched out—it was still a virgin. [NOTE – I haven’t worn the shirt since this post, eight years ago]

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BAMF’s Movie Poster Hall of Fame – CHATO’S LAND

chatos_landOne of my favorite Charles Bronson movies, a straight-up Injunsploitation classic.

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T-Shirt Confidential #4

confidential 2Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

DCFC0127.JPGOriginally posted as T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 4 (July 1, 2007)
Okay, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not actually wearing this shirt. In chronicling my life through the t-shirts I have worn, I knew this would happen sooner or later, so I just decided to get this out of the way sooner. The fact of the matter is that this particular t-shirt doesn’t fit anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I can still put it on, but it is with the utmost shame and disgust that I must admit how portly I have become over the years, and to see me rocking this bad boy is nothing short of just plain sad.

I got a lot of wear out of this shirt over the years. It was given to me by two of my best friends—Ron and Kevin—back in the summer of 1986, after we all graduated high school. The Meat Puppets were playing in town with two local bands (I think the other two bands were the Hellcows and Napalm Beach) at the Pine Street Theater. I had never been to a punk show, and Kevin and Ron dragged me out for this event—a sort of going away party for me, as I was soon headed off to New Jersey for college.

What’s funny is that I have no memories of any of the bands, which is sad because I was neither drunk nor stoned. I did catch some of the first two bands, but by the time the Meat Puppets took the stage I was in the parking lot trying to make time with some chick whose name I can’t remember. All I remember about her is she had a tattoo of a spider, so over the years she has simply become known as Spider Chick.

All of this went down 21 years ago [Actually, it went down 29 years ago]. A few weeks after that show I was off to New Jersey. I wore this shirt a lot in those days. Maybe it was because it reminded me of my friends back home. People would walk up to me and say, “I love the Meat Puppets,” and I would respond, “Yeah, they’re great.” The truth is that not only did I not see the show that night; I don’t believe I’ve ever even heard a single song by them.

To this day, I’m still friends with Ron and Kevin (in fact, I just spoke to both of them last week). The Meat Puppets recently came back through town, and I was almost tempted to go. Kevin would not have been able to make it, because he’s the father of two, and his youngest is barely a month old. Ron still goes to shows, but much of his time is spent either DJing, or chaining chicks up and whipping them (seriously, he’s in to that S&M stuff, and women love to be dominated by him). It’s funny because Kevin talks about changing dirty diapers, and Ron talks about leading submissive women around on a leash, and I can’t relate to what either of them is telling me. But we are still friends after all these years

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BAMF’s Movie Poster Hall of Fame – ANGEL OF H.E.A.T.

angel_of_heat_posterI never saw this movie. I doubt it could ever live up to the poster.

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T-Shirt Confidential #3

confidential 1Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

DCFC0061.JPGOriginally posted as T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 3 (June 23,007)
Talk about bringing back memories. This is one of about four different shirts for a band called Drunk at Abi’s, which was pretty big in Portland during the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was in my early 20s back in those days, and while it sounds like a cliché to say it, I don’t think there was ever a more vibrant time in the Portland music scene. There was a ton of buzz being generated out of Seattle, most notably by bands like Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden, but no one had really broken big yet. Back in those days you could see a group like Nirvana in a really small club, and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers were only playing 1200 seat venues. It was really amazing.

Some of the hottest bands in Portland at that time included Sweaty Nipples, Hitting Birth, Pond, Crackerbash and Hazel. These were all great bands, but I had a close connection with Drunk at Abi’s, and they were my favorite. The earliest incarnation of the band was formed in late 1988/early 1989 at a party hosted by Abi Lawrence and her sister Valory. I was moving to New York, and my two friends JR Pella and Von Porter got drunk and started jamming, which is basically how it all got started.

By 1990 I was back in Portland, and Von and JR had formed a band. Originally I was hoping they would call themselves Jesus Truck Repair, after a local mechanic shop, but Drunk at Abi’s really made sense. (Eventually some other band called themselves Jesus Truck Repair, but they didn’t last long). At first they were a pseudo power trio with no drummer (?). JR was the singer, Von the guitarist, and a guy named Mike Flick was briefly the bass player before being replaced by Ray Gruen. Tom Peterson was the drummer, and he had gone to high school with JR and me.

DAA had a pretty fast rise in popularity, and for most of that time I was around, helping out in whatever way I could. One of the best shows was a special $1 showcase at a club called LaLuna. The show was completely sold out, there wasn’t enough security, and at any moment it seemed like a riot would break out. Me and some friends jumped in started helping cover security.

It seems like most of my social life revolved around either DAA’s gigs or the video store that me, Von and JR worked at (it was a lot like Clerks). At the height of the band’s popularity they opened for national acts like Rage Against the Machine and The Dead Milkmen. Unfortunately, the band broke up in either 1992 or 1993. It was probably harder on me than the rest of the band—it was like my parents had gotten divorced.

This shirt is probably from 1990. I think it was the first shirt they ever had. Von drew the illustration, and what’s funny is that this is pretty much what the guys in the band looked like.

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Blaxploitation Archive – BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES

baby_needs_new_pair_of_shoesBABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES 1974 (a.k.a. Jive Turkey; Nigger Rich) director: Bill Brahme; starring: Paul Harris, Frank deKova, Serena

Considering the fact that Bill Brame’s only other blaxploitation flick was the rectum-reamingly bad MISS MELODY JONES, it’s amazing that this film isn’t worse. Don’t mistake what I’m saying for a ringing endorsement, ’cause BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES is a terrible film — it just happens to be better than an even worse film.

The muddled plot has something to do with Hakim Jabbar (Paul Harris), also known as Pasha, the godfather of the local black Mafia. Pasha is the king of the local numbers racket, who finds himself caught in a war when the local dagos — led by Frank “F-TROOP” deKova — try to muscle in on his action. Complicating things are the corrupt cops and politicians that are also trying to run him out of business. Lucky for Pasha he’s got an endless supply of expendable goons and a deadly hitman/drag queen (Serena). Armed with killer high heel shoes, the gender-bending assassin is the most memorable character in a forgettable cast of losers.

There’s one word that runs through your mind when watching BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES — actually there’s several words, including shitty, boring and abysmal — but the one prevalent word has to be “ghetto”. This is easily one of the most ghetto films you’ll ever see — welfare filmmaking at its finest. Although it’s set in the 1950s, other than a few old cars there is almost no effort to actually make the film look like a period piece. You get the distinct feeling that director Brame stumbled across a truck filled with film equipment, helped himself to everything inside, and decided to make a movie with his ill-gotten gains. Too bad there wasn’t a book on the truck explaining how to actually make a movie, as the only thing Brame and his crew seem to be capable of doing is loading the film into camera and getting really good shots of the boom mic.

The only reason to watch this turkey is if you’re a fan of lead actor Paul Harris. Hardcore blaxploitation fans will remember Harris as Gator in TRUCK TURNER and the Blind Man in THE MACK. Like many black actors in the 70s, Harris got his one shot at being the lead actor in a film. Too bad it was in this piece of shit.

This review can be found in The BadAzz MoFo Collection, now on sale.

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T-Shirt Confidential #2

confidential 2Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

DCFC0032.JPGOriginally posted as T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 2 (June 16, 2007)
This shirt was given to me by my cousin Sean back in 1995. FREEZE was the hip-hop label he was working for at the time. Somewhere, in my vast collection of material things, I also have a few CDs from FREEZE, but this shirt got more wear than the albums ever got play.

I don’t know if other people ever take the time to think about what a particular article of clothing means to them, but this shirt means a whole hell of a lot to me. Sean gave it to me while I was on a trip visiting family in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. It was the early part of 1995, and I was still dealing with the death of my oldest friend in the world, who had been killed three days before Christmas in 1994. I bought my first video camera right before this trip, and my plan was to make a documentary about my family. Sean and his girlfriend Licia (who would later become his wife) were expecting their first child—the first of the new generation. I was determined to record a bit of our family history, so that when Sean’s daughter grew up, she would be able to know something about the people that came before her.

During that visit to the east coast I also took my grandfather on a road trip from Connecticut to southern Virginia, where he and my grandmother were originally from. It was important to see where they had grown up and met, so even though his health was not the best, it was important that I take him on this journey. I saw the cemeteries where many of my relatives were buried, and even met Miss Dora Hall, my grandfather’s grade school teacher, who at the time I met her was pushing up on 100 years old. On the ride back we spent two days in Washington D.C. with my good friend Bryan and his lady Maria. This time with my grandfather on the road represents some of my greatest memories, and I was wearing this shirt during much of that trip.

It is hard to put into words what that trip back home really meant to me. Shortly after, Sean and Licia’s first daughter Nandi was born. In many ways this marked a new beginning for me and the rest of the family. I interviewed quite a few of my relatives during that trip, mostly older folks who have since passed away in the dozen years since Sean gave me this shirt.

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